There’s a lot more to Illinois than the great city of Chicago. Along with this exciting urban hub there are many natural areas where locals and residents alike enjoy getting outside. With 141 parks it’s no wonder the DNR created the motto, “State Parks, Great Parks” in 2013. This phrase is the title of their initiative to continue improvements on local natural areas with upgraded campgrounds and additional staff to cater to the more than 44 million yearly visitors looking for hiking and camping in Illinois.
People from all over the state – and even outside the country – take the short 1.5-hour drive from Chicago to Starved Rock State Park, where they can hike 13 miles of trails offering elevation gains on wooded pathways along the Illinois River. The 18 canyons serve as great places to spot waterfalls after a rain and families love ending the day with s’mores around the bonfire at the nearby Starved Rock State Park campsites.
Those looking to learn about the state’s heritage while camping in Illinois may head farther south to Lincoln Trail Homestead State Park & Memorial. This 162-acre park is 12 miles southwest of Decatur near Harristown, IL, and features the land where Abraham Lincoln first resided in the state. If you visit be sure to check out the memorials commemorating this important president.
People who want to mountain bike in this Midwestern state will enjoy heading to Palos Park, a forest preserve known for its excellent biking, hiking and equestrian trails that cover over 50 miles of terrain. When it comes to camping in Illinois, this locale offers beautiful facilities at Camp Bullfrog Lake where you can put up a tent next to a lake and hike short or long loops that end up back at your campsite.
If you want to check out the beautiful Lake Michigan drive to Illinois Beach State Park to spend time in the water along the 6.5 miles of sandy shoreline. The park is 4,160 acres offering ample opportunities for hiking, watersports, picnicking, fishing and camping. With The Dyrt, you can be sure to find the best camping in Illinois during your stay in the Prairie State.
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We have never camped in colder weather or during a statewide lockdown for Corona Virus so I am taking that into account. I was glad they were open to begin with, but the website did not mention that the premium patio site with full hook up would not have water service while we were there. We also paid for an end site that would not face other campers and we ended up being downgraded to a 30amp site that was sandwiched between other campers. Bathroom facilities where fantastic and a reason for potential return. I have only seen a couple other campgrounds over ten years of camping that compared. They must have recently done a remodel. Private shower rooms that were perfectly cleaned. The campground itself needs some repairs done to the gravel roads as there were several paths that had very deep ruts that needed to be leveled out. Maybe something they will be addressing in the spring. It was hard to really gauge the park as pools were closed, and so were the registration office and store. Is be willing to give this location another try under different circumstances.
We were there on Labor Day weekend. It was very quiet. I loved that our site was full hookup, very spacious, and they provide free firewood. The campground round was paved so nice for walking, hilly but nice. I didn’t have kids but I didn’t see activities available. They come around and collect your money and give you the Internet password, so if you get there in the evening you may not get it until later the next day. You have to leave the campground and go a couple of miles down the road for any needed item. Bathhouse was older but was clean. The road going into the campground was country rounds and not the best signage.
I was able to get here right before the state closed the parks. It was empty but the dog and I we doing some hiking at Starved Rock so I figured why not. Sites were nice…nothing special. We got an electric site so I was able to use my teardrop which made it nice. Picnic table…fire ring…vault toilet…I don’t need much more than that. It does have some nice hiking along the river and wasn’t busy which is a huge bonus compared to other locations that are near. I would highly recommend this campground for those looking to avoid the crowds.
Pull thru, 50 amp, full hookup. Bar, gaming, laundry, wifi, and showers on site. Military rate was $35 a night. Graveled Sites are close together. Very loud from constant campers in and out, I57, and a train. Small playground and an unfenced dog area. I would deem this as an overnight place if you didn't want to boondock. No scenic view.
This is a mostly day use area. The lake is known for its fishing and known to the locals really. It’s a hidden gem. We go kayaking here all the tine as it is a low wake area. The lake is surrounded by expensive lake homes which forms a tight knit community. If you are camping at Lake Comlara you need to check this place out. Several areas for families and kids. You can also rent boats and what nots to take the family out on the lake for a day. We have always enjoyed our time here and always wanted to stay longer. People are super friendly that live around the lake and it is a surprisingly huge area.
There is a lodge that is available to rent and I imagine they do good business for wedding and family gatherings.
Simple campground…simple is the key. Not a whole lot of fluff with this campground. The reason to camp here is to make sure you get to fish or be on the water. The location is nice as it is in central Illinois and one of the few in the area. Costs can be a little expensive to some but reality is it is right in par with the state. You need to make sure there is good weather coming here as there isn’t too much to do minus the lake. Sites are electric and some are right in the water which would be ideal for kayak/canoe. It is a pretty big park and it is normally booked up so better to reserve early.
I’ve stayed here a few times and we have always stayed with friends sharing sites as it is always better with friends along. It is located close tot he bike paths for mountain bikes so that is an added bonus. Nice little get away at the end of it.